Iraqi PM Adil Abdul-Mahdi speaks to reporters at a weekly press conference in Baghdad on March 12, 2019. Photo: Iraqi PMO
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi bluntly demanded for the world to take responsibility for rebuilding Iraq’s ravaged cities, arguing that Iraq has done it a favor in fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
“We did the world a great service. We gave our blood. We gave millions of victims. This isn’t about charity, grants or tips from anyone. The world has to repay the favor in terms of the security, stability and stopping the movement of displacement to other countries. The world has to repay the favor to Iraq to rebuild its areas,” Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi told reporters in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.
Iraq paid Kuwait about $60 billion in reparations for the Kuwait invasion, and Abdul-Mahdi underscored that Turkey has received billions of dollars from the European Union “just to stop” the flow of migrants.
“We gave our blood. We had our cities destroyed. We have numerous burdens. The world has to carry them with us,” added the PM.
He says Iraqis are merely demanding their “rights,” not calling for help.
“We hold the international community and all countries responsible for the war against Daesh. Iraq can’t alone handle all this destruction and sacrifice,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
The international community is making excuses by “making itself feel good” through minor assistance, “with [Iraq’s] big sacrifices, [it] provides security to Iraq, the region, and the world”.
In his call last week with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the Americans have promised
“As such, the whole world has to stand by Iraq. The American Secretary honestly did promise to support Iraq in these efforts,” added the PM, speaking of the call
A “large part” of Iraq receiving ISIS suspects is dependent upon Baghdad receiving “large amounts of funds” to rebuild its areas, he claimed.
“We are doing a lot of work to come up with projects and plans, not only to compensate the affected, but for rebuilding areas, the return of IDPs, for important economic reforms, and for important administrative reforms,” added the PM.
In February 2018, a donor’s conference for Iraq was held in Kuwait. While Iraq estimated that it needed $88 billion of funds for reconstruction, only about $30 billion, was pledged.
Iraq is yet to see rebuilding on a large scale. Mosul, in particular, still lies in ruins, and the people have taken the mantle of rebuilding their own houses even while they are financially strapped.
There are still more than 1.7 million displaced Iraqis, mostly living in camps in the Kurdistan Region, not willing to go back. The IDPs complain of rampant destruction and poor security in their home areas.
Iran-Iraq to go back to 1975 Shatt al-Arab border
Abdul-Mahdi also revealed details about Iran and Iraq agreeing to the return to the 1975 sea border in Shatt al-Arab and the lifting of visa fees, days after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Baghdad.
“We reached an agreement on how to deal with this topic in order for us to start with cleaning and drilling operations to return to the Taluk line like it was in 1975. We believe this is an important Iraqi gain,” Abdul-Mahdi said.
The souring of the water, due to lack to cleaning operations of the riverbed, not removing contaminants and not drilling holes in the river, has pushed Iraq’s water border inward about 2.2 kilometers, the PM claimed.
The PM referred to the 1975 Algiers Agreement between the two countries. Shatt al-Arab was entirely considered Iraqi territory, but after the agreement it became a shared waterway.
The agreement included Iran ending its support for the Kurdish insurgency that had threatened the Iraqi state, while the former Iranian Shah got what he had always wanted: Shatt al-Arab.
The border was set at the deepest point, the so-called Taluk link. The souring has caused the line to move to the west, shrinking Iraq’s border in the water, the PM added.
This is important for al-Amaya oil terminal, Abdul-Mahdi claimed. The border has become very close to the terminal resulting in confusion.
The PM also reiterated that with the agreement, Iran is only over lifting visa fees — not visas themselves.